Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Social Cycle (image intensive)

Cycling can be a rather solitary activity.

Being self-propelled means a cyclist can go their own way, sharing an occasional knowing look with fellow pedallers. You could always go cycling with friends, in a club ride, or even take part in "Silly Commuter Racing".

Sadly the law does not take kindly to cyclists having a chat during a ride.

The UK Highway Code (rule 66) states:
You should ... never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
This is not a legal requirement, however riding 3 abreast could count against you in court (for example for determining liability following a collision). However, in Nebraska, USA, cyclists must ride single file.

People in cars have it easy. The metal box cuts out (some) street noise, and with space for 4 or so others, you can conduct a conversation in (relative) comfort.

And of course roads are designed with cars 3 abreast in mind. Just imagine how many cyclists you could fit across a 3 lane motorway.
Cars being sociable on the M74 in Glasgow. From Sir Robert McAlpine.
People being sociable on the M74 in Glasgow. From Morris Furniture.
Bicycles being sociable on Blackfriars Bridge. From LCC.

Or you could have a lot more fun and use a Social Bike!

A side-by-side bicycle (which have a long history):
Claims to be from 1896! Fowlerville Observer.
Introducing the side-by-side bicycle (a little late). Modern Mechanix, August, 1934.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his second wife, Jean Elizabeth Leckie, on a side-by-side tricycle circa 1900. From Nate's Nonsense, with thanks to the Armchair Zoologist. Incidentally Conan Doyle could "only speak words of praise for the bicycle".
You can even make your own!

Or how about a Beer-Bike? Sadly banned in my former home, Düsseldorf.
A Beer-Bike. Spiegel Online.
Or the rather more sober alternative, a conference bike, at least one of which has gone "End-to-End". (Edit: a.k.a. LEJOG)
A conference bike, or CoBi. Made by Velo Saliko in Germany.
There are lots more social bikes out there, I have tried (in vain) to persuade my better half to join me in the footsteps of WillsandKate on a, slightly less sociable, bog standard tandem.
The Royal Couple's tandem hire bike. Courtesy of Boris Johnson.

I may have to settle for a 2-person tricycle.

Although I'm not sure whether we should "ride more than two abreast" or not.

If you're looking for sociology's "Social Cycle Theory" try Wikipedia. And if you're looking for the SoBi bike sharing scheme try socialbicycles.com.

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